Study Guide

Happy Days Choices

By Samuel Beckett

Choices

WINNIE

Begin, Winnie. Begin your day, Winnie. (1.1)

It could be said that the day begins whether we want it to or not. Take Winnie's bell, for example: it's not like she has the ability to keep it from waking her up. How much say do we have over when our day begins? What does it actually mean to begin your day?

WINNIE

[examines tube, smile off] running out—ah well—can't be helped—just one of those old things—another of those old things—just can't be cured (1.1)

Winnie is resigned to things staying as they are. She's constantly repeating the words "can't" and "musn't." In our Shmoopy opinion, we think she could use some words of wisdom from none other than Mr. Michael Jordan himself: "I can accept failure but I can't accept not trying." After all, what's stopping her from doing something (we suggest she begin with some digging)?

WINNIE

There is so little one can do. One does it all. All one can. 'Tis only human. (1.7)

We think you're made of stronger stuff than that Winnie; don't give up so easily. In another ironic twist, Winnie is choosing to resign herself to her fate: tacitly buried in a mound.

WINNIE

To think there are times one cannot take off one's hat, not if one's life were at stake. (1.9)

The choice to follow (or not follow) social group norms is a choice within itself. The idea that the society we live in dictates our choices is part of the price we pay to live with other people. But it seems like Winnie is taking the penalties of breaking the dress code a bit to the extreme if she believes that something like taking off a hat is a life-and-death situation.

WINNIE

Remember how you used to keep on at me to take it away from you? Take it away, Winnie, take it away, before I put myself out of my misery. (1.29)

Suicidal tendencies have obviously surfaced in Winnie and Willie's past. What has prompted the two of them to stay alive? We would hope it's love, but knowing Beckett, it's probably going to be something darker. Being on suicide prevention watch can't be that joyous either, but ultimately, it's what Winnie has chosen to do.

WINNIE

Something says, stop talking now, Winnie, for a minute, don't squander all your words for the day, stop talking and do something for a change, will you? (1.31)

As we can see, Winnie likes to stall things. And boy, have we all been there. But Winnie has pretty much replaced doing with talking, and that can't be good for you—at least, not when you do it all the time like Winnie does.

WINNIE

Why doesn't he dig her out? he says—referring to you, my dear— What good is she to him like that? (1.31.)

What is actually stopping Winnie from digging herself out? Get your hands dirty, Winnie. We recommend using that nail file as a makeshift shovel.

WINNIE

Most strange. Never any change. And more and more strange. (1.31)

If your milk tastes strange, you spit it out, right? If there's a strange smell in your locker then you clean it out. You don't just do nothing. And yet, it's like Winnie is "waiting" for something to alter her life, but, to quote none other than President Obama himself: "We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek."

WINNIE

One cannot sing... just like that, no. It bubbles up, for some unknown reason, the time is ill chosen, one chokes it back. (2.1)

Even though we'd love to break into song and dance in the middle of a boring meeting, we know it's inappropriate. But Winnie seems to take certain rules to the extreme. After all, she's alone and in the middle of nowhere, so why is the time "ill chosen"? Why can't she just sing?

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